The annual Taste of the Arts festival is taking advantage this year of its downtown location on the Arts United campus with new evening events and an extended schedule until midnight.
The one-day event will feature seven stages of performances, a juried art show and a new lineup of activities for the after party, Dessert. The evening will finish with an outdoor screening of the 1933 film King Kong in the Arts United Center plaza.
Admission is free, and proceeds from food and beverages benefit Arts Uniteds arts and cultural efforts.
Taste of the Arts coordinator Tena Woenker says that the festival continues to grow every year, and with the inclusion of new evening events, it was more accommodating for performers and vendors to extend the hours of the event.
Its a much bigger day, Woenker says. We have had times where people would come out at 4 (p.m.) and the festival was kind of over. Its moving to an all-day event, and I think people can expect a different crowd from the morning to Dessert.
The Taste of the Arts offers an opportunity to draw the public into Fort Waynes cultural district, which is developing itself as an arts-centric asset to downtown.
The ongoing initiative began in 2010 as a partnership among the city of Fort Wayne, Arts United, Visit Fort Wayne and Downtown Improvement District to embrace public art, creative storefronts, local produce and culinary explorations for a vibrant, eclectic urban neighborhood.
This summer, the partners announced that a final plan on how to encourage the citys urban growth will be released in October.
The Arts Uniteds vision is for Fort Wayne to be a top-10 city in 20 years. The festival is one thing thats making that happen, Woenker says. This type of event can make Fort Wayne a top cultural community for the arts.
Weve been working on this (Taste of the Arts) for five years, and its a long process to rebuild a reputation of a city, but we can do it. We have that type of talent in this community.
The centerpiece of the festival is the 60 groups of musicians, dancers and performing artists featured on seven indoor and outdoor stages.
In addition, there will be three single-performance areas for Harp Condition, Michael Rhoades The Sights and Sounds of Numbers exhibit and electronic music DJs Adejai, Joshua Elias and Mohasky.
The new Busker Square in Freimann Square revisits the spirit of the annual Busker Fest with a surprising mix of street performers.
The Downtown Improvement District will be in this area using participants for an interactive community comic strip produced by local graphic artists.
Were using more and more of the arts campus. We expanded to the Barr Street Market, and were really pushing our boundaries of the cultural district, Woenker says. We want to bring attention to the gems downtown.
The festival offers free admissions to Artlink, Fort Wayne Museum of Art, The History Center and Cinema Center, with food tents lining up on Main and Barr streets. B. Antonios Pizza will have eight-time world medalist pizza acrobat Michael Shepard do a pizza-tossing demonstration at their booth.
The Fine Art Fair will be a juried event for the first time this year.
Its been our plan to elevate each part of the event, and we wanted to elevate the quality of the Fine Arts Fair so it would be a national draw for artists, and as that happens, the festival becomes a Midwest draw, Woenker says.
The Taste of the Arts after party begins at 6 p.m. on the Dessert stage at of Berry and Barr streets with live performances until 10 p.m.
The festival will feature a new ticketed wine tasting event at Arts United Center. Participants will enjoy a selection of wines provided by WineTime wine shop while choosing to take a salsa dance lesson with Salsa Loca or a painting lesson with Artlinks Bring Your Own Brush class, or both, for an hour each.
Closing out the night, Cinema Center will have an outdoor screening of King Kong in the Arts United Center plaza. By the time the humongous ape-beast scales the iconic Empire State Building overlooking the metropolis, Woenker hopes the audience has fully experienced the real potential of downtown.
The best way to understand it is to walk around and just experience what is out there, she says.